Towards the end of 2023, the day before Winter Break, parents, grandparents, faculty, and students gathered in the GDS LMS Cafe to peruse the Family Box projects. A unique, 30+ year tradition for the 6th grade at GDS that only took a brief hiatus during the pandemic, the project involves student-created shadowbox-like, three-dimensional displays made from family items imbued with personal and – often several generations deep – family meaning. Each was accompanied by a personal essay written by the students, explaining the significance of the items carefully chosen for display.
The project offers students a way to personally engage and connect with their family’s history, as well as to share their family history with fellow students and their families in a way that is both creative and fun.
This year, students chose objects including military hats and helmets from relatives and ancestors, old toys, musical instruments, photographs, jewelry, award plaques, even shoes. The display cases were just as uniquely creative: including instrument cases, suitcases, and jewelry boxes.
Students gave presentations to their classmates before they went on display for the families, retelling family stories and often making connections with classmates through the discovery of shared family histories.